Sox playing survivor

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Sox playing survivor

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

On Wednesday night, as the Sox kicked off the second game of their doubleheader with Seattle, The Comeback was playing on another channel.

If you're not familiar, The Comeback is easily one of the Top-5 Seinfeld shows of all time; one of those shows that you probably remember as being two or three individual episodes.

It has George and the Jerk Store, Jerry playing tennis with Milos, and Elaine falling in love with Vincent the video store clerk.

For the purpose of this column, it's also the episode where Kramer watches a movie called The Other Side of Darkness and becomes obsessed with comas. In the process, he decides that he'd rather die than ever be in a coma himself, and wants Elaine to be in charge of pulling the plug. Just in case.

"Yeah, because you're perfect," he tells her. "You're a calculating, cold-hearted businesswoman. And when there's dirty work to be done, you don't mind stomping on a few throats."

This comes after Kramer has already offered that job to Jerry, but backs out because he's not confident that Jerry would actually go through with.

"You can't let go!" Kramer screams, before doing something funny.

Anyway, I'm on my couch Wednesday night, watching this unfold in between innings, and two things are on my mind.

1. Nice, this is one of the "Hot Elaine" episodes!
2. Man, when it comes to the 2010 Red Sox, I'm just like Jerry I can't let go.

No. 1 needs no explanation, so I'll just do my best on No. 2.

Basically, I've had this team on life support since August 1.

At the time, they'd just closed July in a 10-13 funk that transformed their 1 12-game wild card-lead into a 5 12-game deficit. They were still dealing with substantial injuries. On top of that, the trade deadline had passed and the Sox were about as active as a hungover snail. They weren't playing well. The organization didn't seem very concerned with getting better. Not to mention, the Yanks and Rays were looking stronger every day!

At this point, I'd seen enough teams with "it" and the 2010 Sox didn't fit that mold. The next night, they lost at home to the Indians, and lost Kevin Youkilis for the season. I had the plug in my grasps, and was ready to yank it like I was starting a mower.

But something in me couldn't let go yet, and hasn't been able to since.

At first I thought, "OK, let's give them until the end of that four-game series in New York. If they don't take three games, then they're through."

When they only won two, I thought, "But, hey, now Pedroia's coming back! If anyone can turn this around, Pedey can! Let's see if they can go on a little run with him in the lineup, and if not, they're through."

When Pedroia lasted only two games, I thought, "Well, they can still beat up on the Angels, Jays and Mariners, and then they go to Tampa for three and then . . . who knows?"

I feel stupid already. Am I seriously still wondering whether they can put this all together? How long will I let this drag on for? Where's Elaine Benes when you need her?

But while we've had ample reason to write the Sox off as dead at many points over this last month, the truth is that they've yet to actually die. For 24 games in August, we've felt like they were about to roll over; to pack it in, and allow us to move on. But these guys are like that cow in Me, Myself and Irene.

The strange thing is that they're not even getting better. They're just not getting worse. I mean, has there ever been a point where they've actually turned us into believers? No, they've just consistently done enough to remind us that they still have a pulse. Enough to keep us interested and watching; enough to make us write things like, "and then they go to Tampa for three and then . . . who knows?"

Really, it feels silly. This is a team that is without their Nos. 1, 2 and 4 hitters from Opening Day, plus their starting center fielder. They're 5 12 games behind the best two teams in baseball. How does any of that add up?

Again, it doesn't. It hasn't for a while. But somehow we're still here, sitting and wondering, "What if they sweep this weekend? What if Lackey, Lester, Buchholz and Lester all put it together? What if Papi and V-Mart find a groove? What if Lowell pulls a Rasheed Wallace and gives them a month of magic before riding off into retirement?

What if . . . what if . . . what if . . .

For all the what-ifs, there's one thing I do know for sure: Without a sweep this weekend, the Sox are through.

(Then again, they do still have six games left against the Yankees . . . )

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

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Red Sox celebration quickly washes away walk-off loss

NEW YORK -- It had the potential to be the most awkward celebration ever.

In the top of the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium, before their game was complete, the Red Sox became American League East champions, by virtue of one other division rival -- Baltimore -- coming back to beat another -- Toronto -- in the ninth inning.

That eliminated the Blue Jays from the division race, and made the Sox division champs.

But that ninth inning reversal of fortune was about to visit the Red Sox, too.

Craig Kimbrel faced four hitters and allowed a single and three straight walks, leading to a run. When, after 28 pitches, he couldn't get an out, he was lifted for Joe Kelly, who recorded one out, then yielded a walk-off grand slam to Mark Teixeira.

The Yankees celebrated wildly on the field, while the Red Sox trudged into the dugout, beset with mixed emotions.

Yes, they had just lost a game that seemed theirs. But they also had accomplished something that had taken 158 games.

What to do?

The Sox decided to drown their temporary sorrows in champagne.

"As soon as we got in here,'' said Jackie Bradley Jr., "we quickly got over it.''

From the top of the eighth until the start of the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox seemed headed in a conventional celebration.

A two-run, bases-loaded double by Mookie Betts and a wild pitch -- the latter enabling David Ortiz to slide into home and dislodge the ball from former teammate Tommy Layne's glove --- had given the Sox a 3-0 lead.

Koji Uehara worked around a walk to post a scoreless walk and after the top of the ninth, the Sox called on Craig Kimbrel, who had successfully closed out all but two save opportunities all season.

But Kimbrel quickly allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner and then began pitching as though he forgot how to throw strikes. Three straight walks resulted in a run in and the bases loaded.

Joe Kelly got an out, but then Teixeira, for the second time this week, produced a game-winning homer in the ninth. On Monday, he had homered in Toronto to turn a Blue Jays win into a loss, and now, here he was again.

It may have been a rather meaningless victory for the Yankees -- who remain barely alive for the wild card -- but it did prevent them the indignity of watching the Red Sox celebrate on their lawn.

Instead, the Sox wore the shame of the walk-off -- at least until they reached their clubhouse, where the partying began in earnest.

It had taken clubhouse attendants less than five minutes to cover the floor and lockers with plastic protective sheets. In a matter of a few more minutes, the air was filled with a mix of beer and bubbly.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski wore a goggles and only socks on his feet.

As the spray reached every inch of the clubhouse, David Ortiz exclaimed: "I'm going to drown in this man.''

Defeat? What defeat?